Care Homes – How can you find a good one for your loved one?

Date Added 23.09.15

Veronica Male a Chartered Legal Executive for Tollers Solicitors gives her professional advice.

It’s a difficult question. Unfortunately, our loved one’s medical condition can mean they need care in a care home as they can no longer be supported by care in their own home.

Families are then faced with the problem of trying to find a good local care home so that they can rest assured that their loved one’s needs can be met and they are able to regularly visit them.

The first step could be to check the Care Quality Commission’s website www.cqc.org.uk for information about the care homes in the area.

Care homes are rated by the Care Quality Commission using the following ratings:

  • Outstanding
  • Good
  • Requires Improvement
  • Inadequate

Clearly, any family would want the best for their loved one and would want to focus on the care homes rated “Good” or “Outstanding”.  However, don’t just rely on this report I always recommend you also take the time to visit the care home to see the standards for yourself.

A care home which has been rated “Good” at the time of inspection may subsequently now have staffing issues for example and require improvement or be inadequate.

There was a recent case in the news of Birch Court in Warrington which was rated “Good” in June 2015 but the council, during a routine visit, identified problems with poor staffing levels and basic care needs of the residents not being met.  This led the council to intervene.  Therefore, I advise families never to rely on just the rating but to visit the homes and ask around locally about their reputation.

There are a number of guides to help you in assessing the care home when you visit.  Your Voice Matters, a group campaigning for better care for people in care homes have produced a check list of what to consider, you can download this helpful guide from www.yourvoicematters.org.uk.

I always advise families to think about the following when they are looking at care homes:

  1. The smell – does the Home smell strongly of urine or faeces? – If it does, residents’ continence needs are not being met.
  2. Listen to staff when they speak to or about the residents.  A carer should speak to the residents with kindness, patience and respect.  If staff speak about residents in a dismissive or derogatory way they are unlikely to treat your loved one with respect and courtesy.
  3. How are the residents treated?  If they call out for help, is it not answered quickly? Are they taken to the toilet quickly when they ask for help? Are they supported and given time to help them do something, such as feed themselves or walk with assistance?
  4. If you can, speak to a resident or a visiting family member.  Some residents are only too happy to have someone to chat to and will give you valuable insights into the home.
  5. See if you are able to visit the home at different times so you can see how the care home works at different times.

If, once your loved one goes into a care home, you are concerned about their care, it is important to raise a complaint.

In my next article I will explain about how you can complain and who you need to complain to.

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